"Hello beautiful sober mamas,

My name is Alana MacDonald and I am a Canadian mom living in Australia with my loving family. I am 359 days sober. T-1 day away from my ONE year anniversary. I think the best place to begin my story is in the present and from a place of gratitude and love.

I am a 38 year old, wellness mentor, human rights advocate, athlete, Self-Care Coach for moms, wife, mother of two beautiful children aged 5 and 7, a school teacher and businesswoman.

As I'm writing this note, I'm sitting next to my gorgeous family in Sydney, Australia on our summer vacation feeling relaxed and loved.

Sobriety for me is a whole new world of self-actualization, self-awareness, courage, commitment, discipline, grit, forgiveness, patience, love and faith. I don't care how messy or chaotic my journey has been thus fa. As long as I don't take that first drink then I'm doing okay.

I will do whatever it takes to life a sober life. Being vulnerable, humble, seeking help, reducing toxins, cognitive behavior therapy, yoga and meditation are key elements in my sober journey. I am proud of where I am today and where I'm heading. I am so grateful to be connected with you all and feel a sense of belonging in our Sober Mom Tribe.

Let's take a few steps back in my experience over the years.

I started drinking, smoking and smoking weed when I was 13 years old. I was super active, very social, happy, positive, loved the outdoors and sporty. I was always a firm believer of the 'work hard play hard' mentality. However, it doesn't have the best outcome if you don't have an 'off switch'.

By the time I was 16 I was hospitalized with alcohol poisoning and almost died. That didn't stop me from drinking. I continued to drink and smoke weed for a few more years and then I discovered mushrooms and harder drugs at the end of high school and early on in my University days.

I continued down a very destructive path for another 10 years. I quit drinking a few times and went to addictions counseling. One counselor suggested controlled drinking but I found this impossible and it put me in a tortured state of mind when I tried to do it.

Alcoholism runs deep in my family. I have had several family members die from the disease. I said to myself "no way I'm an alcoholic - I'm too smart and athletic to be addicted to alcohol."

I continued drinking after broken teeth, black eyes, blackouts and wicked hangovers. I always quit for a little bit but after a couple of months I'd say 'I'm okay, I'll just have one'. We all knows what that means! It wasn't until I blacked out in Hong Kong and couldn't find the place I was staying at that I said to myself, 'Enough is enough! If I'm going to travel South East Asia by myself for 3 months and drink I'm either going to wind up sexually assaulted or dead.'

That was March 2009. My sobriety lasted until June 2013. That was the longest I stayed sober. I felt incredible. I felt empowered and liberated. I don't know if this sounds familiar but after having kids I started drinking again because I was now 'responsible' for little people and can't get drunk, right?!?! WRONG!!

Little did I know that this is not how alcoholism works. If I knew then what I know now and someone told me about AA I would have taken the path of healing and recovery a lot sooner.

We were living in Hong Kong and we lived in a small community where friends were family and our nanny was available to take care of the children at any given moment.

The mommy wine culture was in full effect and I was leading the way. Booze was involved morning, noon and night. On any given occasion alcohol was present. Kids' birthdays we had booze, play dates we had booze, picnics in the park we had booze, after school pick ups we had booze, book club (without the books) we had booze, pool side we had booze, BBQ's we had booze, on the train we had booze, special events and non events we had booze. Booze, booze, booze! You name it, we drank. It was all-consuming.

After leaving Hong Kong and moving to Australia a new and exciting adventure began. Along with the change the boozing ramped up even more. I felt like I needed it to fit in and deal with my new life. I didn't realize the big change was going to be so overwhelming and take a toll on my mental health. I was having major anxiety and panic attacks trying to do everything and anything to make our new life perfect at the fastest speed possible.

As an alcoholic you don't need an excuse to drink. In those early days after the move to Australia I drank to cope with change, I drank when I felt anxious (which was all the time), I drank to have fun with new friends, I drank because it's always sunny and beautiful here, I drank to celebrate, I drank when I cooked dinner, I drank at dinner, I drank while bathing the kids, I drank after the kids went to bed, I drank alone, I drank when I felt lonely, I drank at kids parties. I drank at any moment I could. Did it help me cope?!? HELL NO!

I broke my foot December 3rd 2017 in a silly accident playing soccer whilst drinking. I was ashamed to admit I couldn't remember how it happened. I continued to drink while in a moon boot for another 6 weeks. There was a 30 day healthy living cleanse program starting January 2nd, 2018. I felt like I couldn't quit then. We were going on a big camping trip with 3 other families. I made any excuse to keep drinking and not give up my 'best friend'.

It was January 15th, 2018 when I made the DECISION that enough was enough!! As I'm writing this note, I'm 1 day away from my 1st birthday. I can't imagine my life being any different. I love every minute of it even the ups and downs and all of the emotions either positive or negative.

359 days ago I said enough is enough! The moment that changed my life was walking out my psychologist's office discussing my ADHD. I was compelled to say "I have a drinking problem and need help". It was such a relief to just say those words. We sat and talked for another 30 minutes. We had so much to talk about. It was a 'Universe has your back moment' because he was an AA member and highly recommended me to go.

I was anxious and nervous to go to my first meeting. It took me 2 weeks to work up the courage to go but I did it. I even shared on my first day. It was a blur but I didn't care. After the meeting so many people, especially old timers, were so encouraging and said 'keep coming back, we need you.' I didn't quite understand what they meant by that. Some of the old timers had 20-40 years up so I wondered why they were saying that they needed me? After some time I realized that the fellowship is all about one alcoholic helping another to stay sober. We all need each other to heal, recover and stay sober.

Since we cannot turn back time I have my eyes, ears, heart and mind wide open to living a life of sobriety in my future. I'm not a closet alcoholic anymore and am committed to helping others and myself to heal.

I now lean into the chaos instead of reaching for the bottle to suppress feelings. I am comfortable with being uncomfortable to actually feel the feels. I want to live a life of peace, happiness and abundance. I want to spread joy, love and a positive zest for life to everyone one I meet. I want to be surrounded by uplifting, encouraging, inspirational, driven ambitious people. I want to be a role model for my kids. I want to make a positive impact in my community. I want to be the best version of myself so I can empower and inspire moms just like me to prioritize self-love and self-care so they can win and succeed at life.

Real change is here and is only getting stronger and more abundant every day. I truly believe we're all in the right place RIGHT NOW to make a lifelong change. We can't keep our struggles to ourselves any longer. It's time to reach out, be courageous and ask for help.

In this past year of sobriety I have shifted my mindset and awareness to growth, self-care, vitality and joy. Instead of fighting an old life, I let go and started building a new life. The positive mindset shift has given me strength and hope for a beautiful, bright, abundant future for myself, my family, my friends and everyone I meet. This time I'm all in and seeking the support I need to make this new sober life a joyful,healthy, empowering, inspiring and successful one for me, my family, my business and everyone I meet. Surrounding myself with people especially moms struggling and being vulnerable and talking out loud about the physical allergy, obsession of the mind is the most encouraging and inspirational way to achieve lasting SUCCESSS.

Thanks for listening to my story. I am looking forward to this healing and recovery journey with you all and hearing your stories too."